Google has reported yet another strong rise in the number of government requests for content to be removed from its services in its latest Transparency Report.
Google has been releasing the reports since 2010 to show how law agencies and governments are leaning on the firm to have content removed for reasons of defamation, privacy, security and trademarks, among others.
In the first half of 2013 it received a total of 3,846 requests to remove a total of 24,737 pieces of content. This was up notably on the second half of 2012 when it was asked to remove 24,179 items from 2,285 government requests.
In the latest period, the total number of requests included 117 from the UK. Forty-six of the requests from the UK were court orders while the remaining 71 came from other agencies such as the police. Google revealed some information on two of these requests.
“We received a request from a law firm representing a former Member of Parliament to remove a preview from Google Books that allegedly defamed the MP by suggesting he was engaged in illegal activity. We removed the preview,” it reported.
“We received a request from a local government council to remove a blog post that allegedly defames the council. We did not remove the blog post.”
In total, Google complied with 63 percent of the court orders to remove items that it received and 52 percent of requests from other authorities in the UK.
The two countries with the biggest rise in requests were Turkey and Russia, according to a blog post by legal director at Google, Susan Infantino.
“We received 1,673 requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from our platforms, nearly a tenfold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests — 1,126 to be exact — called for the removal of 1,345 pieces of content related to alleged violations of law 5651,” she wrote
Turkey's law 5651 relates to “Regulating Broadcasting in the Internet and Fighting Against Crimes Committed through Internet Broadcasting", which critics say has lead to a major censorship crackdown online within the nation.
Meanwhile the rise in Russia was attributed to the new 'blacklist' law that has come into force: "We received 257 removal requests during this reporting period, which is more than double the number of requests we received throughout 2012," she wrote.
Infantino said the ongoing pressure to remove political content from its services, often based on irrelevant legal ground, was a worrying trend.
“Governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes," she wrote.
"These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one-third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims."
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